After 27 years of marriage, I thought my parents were safe. I figured we were one of those odd families where the husband and wife stayed husband and wife. So I was rather surprised at age 21 to receive a letter in the mail telling me otherwise.
I don’t know what it is like for little kids who’s parents divorce. I can guess and sympathize, but I’m not sure if it is easier or harder to be an adult when it happens. I certainly didn’t blame myself, and I didn’t have to chose between living at Mommy’s or Daddy’s. Instead, I was left to wonder, “If this was going to happen, shouldn’t it have happened…sooner? Like, in the era of hair bands?” I know sometimes parents stay together for the kids, but I was displeased to be used as an excuse for someone else’s decisions. I’m not sure what life would have looked like if Dad hadn’t stuck around as long as he did. Am I better off because he did? Am I worse?
I certainly lost my faith in the institution of marriage for several years after their parting. Marriage was stupid and dumb if someone could just up and leave like that, telling you he was going on a business trip to North Carolina and never come back. I looked back on the way things had been between my parents and wondered if there were signs I had missed. Was there foreshadowing in the story of my life that I could have caught with better literary analysis? So many things I thought were normal might not have been normal at all. Was Mom supposed to be doing all the cooking and yardwork? Was Dad supposed to spend so much time in the basement, never watching TV with us? It was good they never, ever fought, right?
Even today when I say, “My parents are divorced,” I pause for a second and think, “Oh, yeah, I guess they are. How weird.” Even typing it now it doesn’t quite seem true. Yet I don’t think of them as married anymore either. I just think of them as Mom and Dad. My relationships with them are individual and vastly different.
It was a very clean break, a sudden, yet quick divorce that took all of 3 months. I suppose I should be grateful for that, that it wasn’t drawn out. I guess I am. Yet, after 27 years you’d think there would be more to negotiate. I guess not. It is weird looking back at family photos and knowing the plot twist in Chapter 27. It is strange wondering what everyone was thinking as they looked into the camera lens. Sometimes I see photos of myself as a child, and I don’t remember what I was thinking myself.